The Alexandria-based Glengarry Pipers skated in an intra-squad scrimmage last Saturday in Alexandria, where Team White prevailed 5-3.
The Pipers are a first-year team in the region’s senior ‘A’ hockey league, the EOSHL. (The ‘S’ stands for Super, not Senior though.)
The team continues to train and prepare for a 2020-21 season, which, to date, has been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under current health guidelines, teams are permitted to practise and hold non-contact scrimmages.
Off the ice, the business of hockey also continues, as the club signs players. Amongst the recent signees is Maxim Lalancette-Fortier, a 21-year-old goaltender from Saint-Constant, Quebec. Last season, he was a member of the Waterloo Maroons of the LHSR, suiting up for 7 games in which he recorded a 6.42 goals-against average.
The team also recently tipped its goalie mask to netminder Bryce Luker, who was recently recognized as one of three best goalies of all-time for the BCHL’s (junior ‘A’) Burnaby Express. The team has since moved to Coquitlam. You can read more about Luker’s honour here.
The Glengarry Pipers acknowledge past Luker’s success on the ice, which includes his win at the RBC Cup, the national championship of junior ‘A’ hockey clubs. In five games at the 2006 tournament, he posted a 2.29 goals-against average. In league play that season, he manned the hemp hut for 42 regular-season games (3.03 GAA) and 20 playoff matches (2.51 GAA).
The National Capital Junior Hockey League (the region’s junior ‘C’ loop) has proposed a 2020-21 season with non-contact play, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions.
In its November 2 announcement, the NCJHL stated it is “in the process of submitting a plan to HEO to allow NCJHL to play hockey again for this season.” HEO (Hockey Eastern Ontario) is the sports governing body in this region, operating as a branch of Hockey Canada.
The plan requires all clubs to commit to play that will feature no body contact, which is expected to result in “extremely fast hockey.”
“NCJHL is working with HEO to provide a safe environment for all to play in and for fans to watch from.”
Current COVID-19 restrictions set by the provincial government and enforced by local health authorities allow only limited hockey, currently with no games and no body contact. Teams are allowed modified scrimmages, with clubs in bubbles or paired. For example, Hawkesbury’s junior ‘A’ team is paired with the squad from Rockland for non-contact scrimmages.
There is some junior ‘B’ hockey on tap for tonight at the Glengarry Sports Palace, where the Alexandria Glens are booked to host the Char-Lan Rebels in an exhibition, non-contact scrimmage, the fifth of their pre-season series.
As with the previous scrimmages, current COVID-19 health and safety rules place a number of restrictions on the event, including limiting the number of spectators who can attend. Tickets were sold online in advance and are not available at the door.
The game is scheduled to be broadcast online via Hockey TV (subscription required). Liam Arkinson will have the play-by-play call.
Thus far, the Rebs have had the upper hand in the series of scrimmage. Char-Lan won the first three meetings. The fourth, played in Williamstown on October 17, saw Alexandria prevail 4-3 in a shootout, with Patryk Kostrzewa scoring the game-winner.
Off the ice, both clubs remain active. Recently, the Glens and Rebels conducted a trade, the details of which can be read here in a previous post.
October 23 saw the Alexandria Glens hold an intra-squad scrimmage, with Team Yellow (Braden Legue, captain) winning in double overtime, 8-7.
The Rebels announced that forward Tyler Branchaud has signed with the team. He skated with the U18 Colts for the 2019-20 campaign, recording 24 points and 51 penalty minutes in HEO 37 games. The 17-year-old hails from Metcalfe. He’s already somewhat familiar with Char-Lan’s junior ‘B’ team as last season he played as an affiliate with the Rebs in 9 games, notching 3 points. In two contests with the CCHL Colts, Branchaud didn’t hit the scoresheet.
Worthy of note, Branchaud is a dual-sport athlete who also competed for Canada at the U18 men’s softball world cup last year.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old defenceman Dillon Spinner has committed to returning to the Rebels for another go-round this winter. He was the team’s recipient of the Ken MacDonald award for overall proficiency last season. Char-Lan is glad to have him back “to solidify a strong D-corp.”
The 2020-21 hockey season is shaping up to be anything but normal, as a limited number of local fans of the senior ‘A’ game got a chance recently to check out a competitive scrimmage between the Maxville Mustangs and the Glengarry Pipers, in Alexandria, with the latter coming out on top.
The Pipers seemed to be playing the right tune in the October 24 contest, edging their North Glengarry rival 5-4.
Helping out the Alexandria-based squad which is a new entrant this season in the league was Jason Leroux, a coach of the NGS Braves U13 hockey team. He donned the goalie pads to serve as back up tendie.
The modified (non-contact due to COVID-19 restrictions) followed the Pipers training camp, which was held at the Glengarry Sports Palace back on October 10. The team’s coach and general manager, Jamie Lavigne, tells me that he had 35 guys on the ice for the workout, with the players skating in a three-period intra-squad contest which finished in a 4-4 tie. The equalizer came with 30 seconds remaining on the clock, notched by former Alexandria Glen Reggy St. Surin.
Lavigne admits, “It was different not having any contact or fighting, but it made for some good hockey.”
He tells me that the league is still is planning for a January 2021 season start date. The Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League recently added its eighth team, the Pontiac Comets, which will play out of Fort-Coulonge, Quebec.
Lavigne says the hope is now that it will be a 14-game season with each team playing each other twice.
In addition to the Alexandria squad and the Comets, the new clubs entering the EOSHL this season are the Frontenac Phantoms (from Godfrey) and the Smiths Falls Rideaus. The Cornwall Prowlers won the inaugural playoff championship last year, while the West Carleton Rivermen were tops in the regular season and playoff runners-up. The Deseronto Bulldogs are also set to return for a second go-round, as is the Maxville entry, which has been renamed the Mustangs after playing last season, under different ownership, as the Millionaires.
The Char-Lan Rebels have two new players this week, having received Graham Robertson and Alexim Veilleux from the Alexandria Glens in a trade.
The EOJHL Glens dealt the duo to their southern rivals in exchange for a player development fee (PDF) and future considerations.
Robertson, who hails from Maxville, is 18-years-old and plays forward. Checking in at 5 ft. 8 in. and 165 lb, the teen started last season with the Rebels before being signed by the Glens. He had one goal in five games with Char-Lan. In Alexandria, Robertson skated in 38 games, notching 15 points. He’s a product of the Seaway Valley Rapids hockey club.
Calling Hawkesbury home, Veilleux started the 2019-20 campaign in the CCHL (junior ‘A’) with the Kanata Lasers, playing five games. He then joined the junior ‘B’ Glens. With the Alexandria squad, he suited up for 37 games, recording 16 points and 240 penalty minutes. The 19-year-old winger is 5 ft. 8in, 150 lb. In all, he played 36 games at the junior ‘A’ level, beginning with a stint two seasons ago as a member of the Cornwall Colts.
On the trade, the Glens organization stated, “We would like to thank Alexim and Graham for their service and wish them the best with Char-Lan.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, many Canadians hunger for some normalcy, hoping for the return of hockey.
Some leagues have taken tentative steps to resumption, such as the QMJHL which began regular-season play earlier this month only to see much of the league forced to shut down due to COVID-19 outbreaks on teams and provincial government orders in some parts of the province. Other leagues, such as the CCHL and EOJHL have tried scrimmages, allowing each club to partner with one other in non-contact play. Elite minor hockey went the route of bubbles, but again with no contact, while local minor hockey programs have focused on training and development.
All this leaves the fan wanting more.
So how about a little hockey humour courtesy of TSN?
Or what about a hockey movie? Bleacher Report compiled a list of “must-see” movies for the hockey fan. You can check it out here. What do you think? Is there a film missing?
Fans (as well as players, coached, etc.) have to remain hopeful that hockey will return eventually to rinks near and far, hopefully sooner rather than later. Elite junior leagues currently appear to be targeting December or January re-starts, while the NHL is also looking at January 2021 to begin its next season.
Over in Europe, regular play has begun. For example, subscribers to DAZN can watch games from the KHL online.
That Maxville Mustangs and the Glengarry Pipers of the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League (senior ‘A’ men’s) will play an exhibition scrimmage on Saturday, October 24, in Alexandria.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic health and safety requirements, tickets must be purchased in advance, and the number of spectators permitted will be limited to 50. No ticket sales will take place at the door. The wearing of a face mask is mandatory.
For ticket purchase, you can reach out to Bubba Wensink by telephoner at 613-330-0474 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
The teams are scheduled to warm up at 8 p.m., followed by the opening puck drop at 8:30 p.m.
The non-contact game at the Glengarry Sports Palace will be the first action of the season for both club, as regular play remains on hold.